“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan- Summary, Analysis, Characters & Themes

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About the Novel: Crazy Rich Asians

TitleCrazy Rich Asians
AuthorKevin Kwan
GenreFiction, Comedy, Drama
Release DateJune 11, 2013
SettingContemporary Singapore and Asia
StyleSatirical, humorous, with a social commentary on the lives of the super-rich.
ReceptionCommercial success, adapted into a film in 2018, praised for cultural representation.

Analysis: Crazy Rich Asians

“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan is a lively and entertaining novel that gives us a peek into the extravagant and opulent world of Asia’s super-rich. The story follows Rachel Chu, an American-Chinese professor, as she accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young, to Singapore for a wedding. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family is incredibly wealthy, and she’s about to step into a world of excess, high society drama, and over-the-top luxury.

Characters: Crazy Rich Asians

The characters of “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan are:

  1. Rachel Chu: An intelligent and down-to-earth economics professor who finds herself in the world of crazy rich Asians when she accompanies her boyfriend, Nick, to a wedding in Singapore.
  2. Nick Young: Rachel’s boyfriend and heir to a massive fortune in Singapore. He is charming and caring but comes from an incredibly wealthy and traditional family.
  3. Eleanor Young: Nick’s imposing and traditional mother, who disapproves of Rachel because she doesn’t come from the same wealthy background.
  4. Astrid Leong: Nick’s glamorous and kind cousin who is dealing with her own relationship struggles and the pressures of being part of the crazy rich Asian elite.
  5. Goh Peik Lin: Rachel’s best friend in Singapore, who is also wealthy but more laid-back and fun-loving compared to the high-society Singaporeans.
  6. Kitty Pong: A social climber who is determined to marry into a wealthy family and rise in the ranks of Singaporean society.
  7. Oliver T’sien: Nick’s flamboyant and fashion-forward cousin who adds humor to the story with his extravagant lifestyle.

Themes: Crazy Rich Asians

The themes of “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan are:

  1. Wealth and Privilege: The novel explores the extravagant lifestyles and opulent wealth of the Asian elite, showcasing the privileges and challenges that come with it.
  2. Cultural Identity: The story delves into the clash between traditional Asian values and the modern, often Western-influenced, lifestyles of the characters.
  3. Family Dynamics: Family plays a central role, highlighting the complexities and expectations within Asian families, especially when it comes to marriage and social status.
  4. Love Across Social Classes: The novel follows a love story between a commoner and an heir to an immense fortune, highlighting the challenges and prejudices they face from society and their own families.
  5. Social Judgment: There is a strong focus on how society judges individuals based on their wealth, appearance, and social standing, shedding light on the pressure to conform to societal expectations.
  6. Satirical Humor: The book employs humor and satire to poke fun at the excesses of the ultra-wealthy, providing a lighthearted yet critical commentary on the lifestyles of the characters.

Video Summary of “Crazy Rich Asians”

Crazy Rich Asians Summary

The three sections that makeup Crazy Rich Asians are separated into chapters that detail the occasions leading up to and immediately following Colin Khoo and Araminta Lee’s nuptials. The chapters are told from the viewpoints of many characters.

The prologue takes place in 1986. When Nicholas Young is a little boy, his mother, aunts, and relatives take him to London. The manager of the hotel acts as though he cannot locate their reservations and ejects the Chinese family, suggesting that they are not the appropriate guests for such a prestigious establishment.

Nick’s aunt Felicity phones her husband Harry, who knows the hotel’s owner, and purchases it from him. When the family returns to the hotel, the previous proprietor informs the manager that Mrs. Felicity Leong has taken over as the new owner. Felicity dismisses the manager with casualty, treating him in the same manner that he had treated them previously.

In the first part, Nick is an adult living in New York City with Rachel Chu, a professor at New York University, and his lover. As he prepares to return home to serve as best man at his buddy Colin’s wedding, Nick extends an invitation to Rachel to spend the summer with him in Singapore. Despite her hesitation, Chinese American Rachel finally decides to come to Asia. When a Singaporean girl sees Nick with Rachel, she spreads the rumor that Nick is bringing a new girlfriend back to her homeland.

Nick’s cousin Astrid finds an inappropriate text message on her husband Michael’s phone, and her jeweler tells her that Michael bought jewelry that wasn’t meant for her. As Colin and his fiancée, Araminta Lee, are out and about, Nick and Rachel arrive in Singapore. The following day, Nick spends time with Colin, and Rachel visits the family of her friend Peik Lin. When they find out that Nick is close friends with Colin, a well-known and rich family, and that Rachel is going to his wedding, they are shocked. Colin cautions Nick about the possibility of “dark forces,” or single women, scheming against him since, if he gets married, he will become the most eligible young man in Singapore.

Peik Lin drives Rachel to Nick’s grandmother’s house, where they are meeting. When they visit the enormous estate, they are astounded, and Rachel learns that Nick is from a well-known and affluent family. As the party at the house gets going in Part 2, Nick introduces Rachel to the elite of Asian society. Nick’s grandmother, Shang Su Yi, extends an invitation to Nick and Rachel to stay with her rather than in a motel.

Astrid crashes her car rushing to make it home in time to discover her husband cheating after the party. Despite being admitted to the hospital, she confronts Michael when she gets home. Astrid becomes unhappy, searches for explanations, and tries to keep her composure in front of her inquisitive family when he advises that they split up.

While visiting Colin and Araminta’s bachelor and bachelorette parties, Rachel and Nick witness the excessive actions of their friends. Bernard Tai, a friend of Colin’s, hosts a crazy bachelor party complete with drugs, illicit dogfights, and a boat party. Pretending that Colin is ill, Colin, Nick, and their buddy Mehmet manage to get away by hiring a helicopter to transport them to the serene Australian outback. The narrow-minded peers of Araminta are after Rachel. 

The ladies question her about her past and her connection with Nick, making it seem as though she is looking for trouble. After becoming friends with the grounded Sophie, Colin’s sister, Rachel at last feels comfortable enough to open out. Then Rachel discovers in her luggage a bloody, gutted fish and a gory, threatening remark. When she seeks Sophie’s assistance, she is advised to ignore the bullying.

Nick presents Rachel to his parents, Philip and Eleanor, back in Singapore. To support her against Rachel, Eleanor invites several friends to dinner. Rachel is treated well by everybody at dinner, but after she and Nick go, Francesca, Eleanor’s friend, advises Eleanor to get rid of Rachel. While a few others concur, Philip excuses himself because he is irritated with them. Eleanor decides to cut Rachel off, but she should do it gently.

The following several days are devoted to Araminta and Colin’s nuptials. The old-money crowd takes issue with the lavish and star-studded wedding. It is Astrid, not Michael, who attends with Shang Su Yi. Nick becomes aware that he wants to wed Rachel at the ceremony. He leads her to a cave that he used as a childhood hiding place. His ex-girlfriend Mandy interrupts him as he is about to inform her that he wants to marry her. She seems to be jealous of Nick despite her mild manners.

Afterward, Mandy and Francesca hint to Rachel during the wedding luncheon that they had a threesome with Nick. Shocked, Rachel wishes to get out of Singapore. Astrid and Charlie, her former fiancé, get back in touch and discover they have both had unsuccessful marriages. Charlie proposes to take Astrid by plane to Hong Kong so she may confront Michael, who she thinks is away with his lover. Nick attempts to talk Rachel into staying after the banquet as she packs. He offers to take her somewhere so they can simply be together after she tells him about the bullying she has experienced since they arrived. He tells Eleanor before they depart that he plans to ask Rachel to marry him and doesn’t care if she says yes.

Charlie aids Astrid in finding Michael in Hong Kong. At first, he acknowledges that he is having an affair. However, when Astrid begins to cry, he confesses that he had made up the affair—the “mistress” is his cousin—to give Astrid a reason to leave him. He can’t bear being Astrid’s husband, therefore he wants to end the marriage.

Nick’s mother and grandmother are waiting for him and Rachel when they travel to Malaysia, where he intends to pop the question. Since Rachel doesn’t come from a respectable household, Su Yi declines to provide her blessing. Eleanor shows Rachel that her father, Zhou Fang Min, is incarcerated for acts of incompetence that resulted in the deaths of several people, despite Rachel’s belief that he has passed away. Rachel passes out, shocked by the revelation. Nick carries Rachel out after reprimanding his mother and grandparents. Rachel leaves him to remain with Peik Lin after he apologizes to her and drives her away.

Devastated, Nick remains at Colin’s house and makes repeated attempts to get in touch with Rachel. Eleanor bemoans the fact that he won’t talk to her since she destroyed their relationship. Concerned about Nick, Colin returns from his honeymoon and advises him to pursue his efforts to get Rachel back. When Rachel’s mother answers the phone to inquire about her father, she becomes enraged and hangs up before her mother can provide a suitable response. Nick shows up with Rachel’s mother, Kerry, the morning before she is scheduled to travel to China to meet her father.

Kerry clarifies that Kao Wei, a kind guy, is her true father and that Zhou Fang Min is not. Her husband, Zhou Fang Min, was nasty, but Kao Wei gave her comfort and shielded her from his violent outbursts. When she became pregnant with Rachel, she was concerned for her safety and began dating Kao Wei. Because Rachel was a girl, her family was offended and wanted to blind her to get permission from the authorities to have another kid with Kerry. Never realizing that Rachel was his daughter, Kao Wei assisted her in getting to safety in America.

Astrid is devastated over Michael and yet loves him in Hong Kong. Charlie understands that she is incapable of feeling the same way for him. In the hopes that Michael’s business will benefit Astrid, he pays much more than it is worth. Nick and Peik Lin are delighted that Rachel and Kerry have made up back at Peik Lin’s house. Thanking Nick for traveling to California to retrieve her mother, Rachel expresses her admiration and they share a kiss. After everything is settled, Peik Lin and Nick disagree over where Kerry and Rachel should eat. This, Rachel tells her mother, is how things are done in Singapore.

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